Lockdown: The waiting game

When life is hard and frustrating all you can do is cherish the moments.

I walked across the rain-wet green of my garden and noticed that the ugly, spiky plants I dislike so much have burst into fountains of green-white bells. Where did they come from, so beautiful, so unexpected? Overhead a flurry of birds swooped, elegant black shapes against the grey clouds of early morning. I breathed in the silence.

Under my desk my dog has hooked my foot with his paw and put his head down on it, a warm comforting weight. When life is hard and frustrating you can only cherish the moments.

It’s the waiting that is so difficult. It’s all very well to say we should turn off the TV, stop viewing what is happening in the rest of the world. I can’t. I need to know. The rows of coffins, warehouses of beds, frantic health workers, ever-rising stats of the ill and dying; this could be our future.

Will it be? Who knows? We are waiting.

Meanwhile the dread verdict has been passed. Junk status. What will it mean for our family, our budget, our business, our livelihood? What will life be like when we go back to normal, if we ever do? Again, we are waiting.

I count my blessings. There are many. There are many who cannot count as many as I can. I have to think of them and be grateful.

I concentrate on the little things; the bright gold and orange of the marigolds on the porch, birds fluttering in the trees, a cat prowling in the bushes.

Perhaps I should attempt to bake bread? I didn’t stock up on yeast – I’ve never used it in my life. Now could be the time.

What else can we do? A vegetable garden? I have a book somewhere that explains how to feed a family of four all year round from a plot as large as a single bed. Should I try?

Actually, I have books that explain anything and everything. I collect them, but I’ve never had time to read them all. Time. Now, perhaps there is time. I suspect even this time is going to go very quickly. “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days …“

I think of my friends and family and wonder what they are doing. How many pencil cases has Norma run up on her sewing machine? Has Sue come up with a new glass design? Has Arja written another poem?

Of course, some of them are still working in the shops, the pharmacies, on the roads, in the hospitals, video-conferencing with the office, still trying to cover the story and keep people informed. Sometimes, not all that often, I wish I was there in the newsroom, at the cutting edge, seeing what is happening on the ground, racing the deadlines.

I think of our old home in Johannesburg, wondering what is happening there. How are people coping in the blocks of flats, what are they doing with the children who always played in the street?

One thing is sure, it is quieter here. Even at the best of times there were at least three competing sound systems blaring music until the dust shook off the ceiling. I remember, grimly, the one who put disco speakers on his flat balcony and blasted across the city.

In Italy, they say, people sing and play instruments on the balconies. I could handle that. At least it comes from the heart.

No. Joburg is my past. I’m better off here in Henley on Klip.

I finally finished my Easter decoration for my allocated signpost and the Man insists that I cannot leave the house to put it up. I shouldn’t even drive around to admire what everyone else has done. I’ll have to collect the pictures and do a virtual gallery. It’s frustrating.

However, there’s always social media. It’s not something I do often, but these days it’s always good for a chuckle as people share their comments, recipes and choice of music. I haven’t resorted to lining up the cornflakes and combing the dogs with a toothbrush yet, so perhaps I’m still sane.

At the moment, my concern is my little cat who was hit by a car – one of those reckless, speeding drivers who pay no attention to anyone. We hoped to save her leg, but on the last day before lockdown, it had to be amputated. It’s healing slowly and bit by bit she’s adapting to a new normal. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be slow and frustrating as she learns what she can do and what is no longer possible, as we learn what she needs and how to help her cope with her daily life.

But there is still much to cherish; right now she is sitting in the sun, her ears and whiskers twitching as she reacts to the sounds and scents around her.

She will adapt – and so will we. Stay well, stay safe, stay at home.

– Jennifer de Klerk